A promotional campaign by Pingo Doce supermarkets saw thousands of customers flocking to the supermarkets across the Algarve and Portugal yesterday causing chaos and confusion both inside and outside stores.
The supermarket chain offered clients a 50% discount on all products when over €100 was spent in any one transaction.
During these times of economic difficulties many families looking to take advantage of the drastically reduced shopping bills headed off to branches of Pingo Doce around the country.
The stores were forced to close at 6pm yesterday for “safety reasons” as hoards of people queued outside the stores and inside.
Scenes shown on Portuguese news channels showed shelves without any stock and customers scrambling to buy any good that were left in the store hoping to take advantage of the offer.
It wasn’t just families who were taking up the Pingo Doce 50% off offer, many business owners also went to the store to buy alcohol for bars and restaurants.
One business owner proudly showed off a receipt which showed savings of over €300 while others told of their experiences in the store which was packed with people all filling their trolleys high.
No advertising of the offer was made prior to yesterday with people learning about the discounts available via the internet and through word of mouth as shoppers returned from the store and told others about the amazing promotion.
While many were more than happy with the entire experience the Pingo Doce supermarkets, which are owned bt the Jerónimo Martins group, have come under fire for the 50% discount day.
There were reported cases of injuries to shoppers in Lisbon and Porto at Pingo Doce stores. Injuries in Porto resulted from traffic accidents as customers struggled to get to the supermarkets while in Lisbon there were cases of “aggression” between shoppers leading to one member of the public being detained.
The campaign is also being investigated by ASAE according to the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negócios.
“ASAE has already begun to assess if the one day campaign by Pingo Doce involved inappropriate practices,” said a report in the paper.
It is believed that the supermarket could have broken competition laws by selling products below their actual value – a claim that is being backed by the consumer protection group DECO.
The president of DECO, Mário Frota, told Portuguese press: ”It seems to me to be in very bad taste to hold the campaign on May 1. The campaign is an affront to the workers,”
He added that the campaign may also have made families spend more money than they actually have by placing the minimum spend of €100 on the promotion which actually then translated into a minimum spend of €50.
May 1 is the day of the worker in Portugal and usually sees many people take to the streets in the capital to protest about the rights of workers.
This year was no exception with thousands gathering in Lisbon to call for the rights of workers during these times of austerity however the entire protest was overshadowed by the Pingo Doce promotion.
Catarina Martins from the Left Bloc political party described the Pingo Doce campaign as being “against the rights of workers”.